I’m breaking out into a cold sweat. My fingers are twitchy and I keep panicking as I come across something else I am no longer able to do. It is an extension of me. It is, in fact, as much a part of me as my own hand, and just as often attached to it. I don’t think I ever truly appreciated it until now. It is only now, when I have to work out exactly how I’m going to cope without my mobile phone, that I have come to realise how crucial this piece of technology is to me.
My phone is officially dead. Kaput. A pile of useless technical bits & bobs that refuse to do their job. It has, to be fair, been limping along on the last stubs of its legs now for months, barely charging – and being incredibly temperamental about it when it does. It has a mind of its own, and I think it often judges me. For instance, it erased all the new friends I’d made in the last year all of its own accord. I turned it on one day, it buzzed at me and when I went to text someone, I couldn’t because I had no idea of their phone number. Gone in a puff, without warning. I had to ask everyone for their details, again, on Facebook like the scatterbrained mummy I am because it didn’t occur to me to back most of this “vital” information up in a good old fashioned address book. Only, I can’t use Facebook when out and about this time, because I need my phone for that too.
whining panicking talking on the phone to my husband about my predicament. “How am I going to cope? The world is going to end! I NEEEEEEED my phone!” I wailed, and I was reminded of a conversation I’d once had with a group of 9 year olds. We were discussing “needs” and “wants” as part of their citizenship education, and we had agreed that “needs” were the things that are necessary for our survival, growth and development. “Wants,” on the other hand, are generally not essential items. So, we were gaily categorising our flashcards:
- clean water = NEED
- television = WANT
- safe shelter = NEED
- fashionable clothing = WANT (though clothes are a need.)
So far, so good! But deciding where to put a mobile phone seemed to flummax them. Without exception these nine year old children insisted that a mobile phone was a need – that they need it to survive and without it they are unsafe. They looked at me as though I’d grown an extra head when I pointed out that I hadn’t had a mobile phone until I was 18 years old, and even then, I was “ahead of the trend” with this because most people still didn’t have one.
“But how,” they cried, “did you cope if you went out, like, swimming, or something? You need a mobile to tell someone to come pick you up.” In fact, they couldn’t work out how I’d have even arranged the trip in the first place. Arranging something either over the phone or ahead of time when you’re actually with someone seemed alien to them, and actually sticking to those arrangements was a novel idea, but for us (ie, people over the age of about 25), being able to instantly, easily, freely get in touch with people wasn’t an option so we didn’t think about it. Nowadays, the children tell me, they don’t feel safe without one, and that this is an idea reinforced by their parents – parents who survived just fine without one when they were growing up. Rather like Frank Skinner in charge of Room 101, in the end I decided that they were wrong, and that mobile phones would not make it into the NEED category.
But today, I’ve felt like my right arm has been chopped off. So far, I’ve worked out that I use my phone for:
- telling the time (who needs a watch?)
- weather and temperature reports
- storing phone numbers
- checking Facebook
- checking Twitter
- checking emails
- checking WordPress stats (oops!)
- Relaxing aka playing games
- Googling random things that occur to me
- texting people for
- making phone calls
Without my phone I suddenly feel strangely isolated, alone. I’ve had a mild panic about the fact that someone might be trying to get ahold of me, I can’t update my Facebook status, and I’ve no idea what time it is.
But I’ve decided to look on the bright side – when life gives you lemons, make lemonade and all that jazz. This shall be a fortnight (10 working days, minimum) for me to free myself from the shackles of knowing everything that is happening to everyone I know at any given moment. I’ve used Facebook to let people know I’m not ignoring them and I’ve taken a lot of deep breaths. Now, I just need to learn to relax and stop looking for it. Oh, and I need to dig out a watch.
Right now I’m still twitching at every imaginary (I hope) buzz, and I’m still compulsively checking my pockets for my phone, but this fortnight may prove to be a great thing. Maybe now I’ll have to time to skip through the park with my children, build playdough mountains and imprison monsters in the Tower of Doom. I think I may have a bit of a rose tinted, soft focus view of Life Without a Mobile Phone, but I’m actually quite excited now!
What do you think? Is a mobile phone a luxury or a basic essential? A want or a need?